Monday, August 6, 2018

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Close But No Cigar

Riders 19 - Eskimos 26

Just like much of my love life, the Riders' performance on Thursday can be best described as coming up inches short. Well if I'm being honest, in my case it would be many inches short and early as well... but I digress. In what seems to be becoming a theme this season, the Riders hung with one of the top teams in the league but ultimately come up short. If effort and coming close without actually accomplishing anything were worth anything we would surely be in first place... I mean sure the Stamps would be the undisputed champs of that mystical league... but yet again I digress. 

The frustrating thing about that loss is that despite playing one of the best teams in the league, most of the things that contributed to the loss were self inflicted wounds. We just can't seem to get out of our own way. We had to play 1 man short because we submitted a roster with an error on it. We have an almost comical inability to convert from the 1 yard line. We went 1 for 5 in that game and even the one that succeeded was more dumb luck than good execution. We continue to deploy our players in some very curious ways (more on that later). I honestly don't think the talent gap between us and the top teams is very wide at all. The difference is that the good teams find ways to help themselves win rather than find ways to make life more difficult for themselves. 

Yet again our defense put in a herculean effort (and this was despite essentially playing 2 men down for the entire game: Elam and Brouilette). They held the best player in the CFL to 250 yards passing (107 of which came off 2 passes) and a 48% completion rate. For the bulk of the game they managed to neutralize him which is no small feat. The got 4 sacks on a team that had only given up 4 total sacks all season (and could have had more if Reilly wasn't slipping away like a greased up Scotsman). They force a turnover. Sure we ultimately needed one more stop from them but I credit this unit who has done their job every single game except the Ottawa one. Nick Marshall came back with authority. Noticed him holding his hand after the Reilly TD, hopefully its nothing serious.

Offense was definitely better... not good but a big step forward. Our playbook actually appeared like it contained a second page, possibly even double sided. Collaros was poised, did not turn the football over and was apparently aware that throwing more than 10 yards downfield is legal. Duron made his presence felt... both on the scoreboard and the penalty sheet. So life's back to normal there. O-line held up alright yet again. Williams-Lambert finally stepped up amongst the non-Duron/Roosevelt WRs (I think I may have called that in my game preview). So there's hope and hopefully it will continue to improve as Collaros gets more rhythm with the group. That said we still don't have a good offense. Plays were still too often predictable. That first series could not have been more predictable if we announced it over the PA system. As previously mentioned we are just all kinds of awful when try to punch it in from the 1. No push, no effort, sloppy play, just bad. We very curiously gave Thiggy next to no reps in the second half despite the fact that he's one of our best offensive weapons. Instead it was the Mason show. He's ok but very odd not to lean on one of the only 2 offensive guys to actually locate the endzone more than once this season. And as much as it was desperation time, that last series was infuriating to watch. We need 70 yards and a TD so what do we do? 3 straight check-downs. We don't even attempt 1 deep shot. Why employ a bunch of big bodies receivers if you don't intend to use their size or even attempt to?

The lack of Thiggy wasn't the only curious personnel move we made. Why was Duron returning punts? I get that he's done it successfully before but we have a guy whose sole job that is. In fact, Coach recently said they intentionally don't involve him on O to save him for kicks. He also happens to be one of the top returners in the CFL. I'm also about done with Mason on returns. He seems to mishandle a lot of them. Plus he is at best our 4th best returner behind Jones, Thigpen and Duron.

We have now progressed to a team with an Elite D and a not completely awful O. We know we can compete with the best teams in the West. But if we don't start actually turning that into wins we will quickly find ourselves out of the picture in the West. 

Other random thoughts:
- TSN caught some great footage of both coaches in a very candid moment on the sidelines. They showed that Jones does indeed smile and have a personality with this hilarious exchange. And also showed further proof that Maas is a childish, snap case who has an odd hatred of Gatorade jugs with this even more hilarious encounter.

- Now that Caleb Holley isn't around to hate on, I find myself not liking Shaq Evans very much. Is it just me?

- I had to Google the origins of the "close but no cigar" expression after using it in the title. Turns out carnivals used to give out cigars as prizes in the 19th Century. There's your useless piece of knowledge for the day.


ClarkMunroe said...

I’m with you on the thoughts about Shaq Evans. He hasn’t really done much to show me he’s better than Bakari Grant or guys like that (cough Terrell Owens cough).

At this point... I’d be fine if they brought Owens in and replaced Evans with him.

Anonymous said...

So Bagg is too old but T.O. isn't? Messam wasn't? Collaros definitely was better than Bridge but may never be the 2015 version again, just like Durant was never the 2013 again after coming off injury. We have elite players on defence but elite defence? Not so sure. Hurl has been surprisingly okay, DL is very good. But if we have any injuries at DB the 1st options so far have been Carter & Antigua. With an 11 game stretch sans break coming up, injuries could happen. Nice to see there are some DB bodies in camp but with Marcel Young the best option in case of injury is still Carter. And we know Jones will co-opt players from offence or ST (wasn't Christion Jones practising as DB a while back) to make sure his defence looks good. Let's be honest. On offence our running game doesn't stack up to Winnipeg's who also have scored with ease so far nor do our receivers stack up with Edmonton or Calgary's. Whether or not Collaros will be as good as Nichols is up for debate at this point but he's no Reilly or Mitchell from the looks of it. As far as the defence, though they look great in a bunch of stats categories, only the Argos & Als have allowed more points which is the important one. The next 4 games will go a long ways to seeing where the Riders are. With Calgary, BC & Winnipeg twice, 2 wins is a must. Of course I said with Calgary, then Edmonton & Calgary again & the Stamps twice at Mosaic at that, I figured Riders needed at least one win. Only one more kick at the cat on that score.

Govind said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dan said...

Thanks for posting the Maas Gatorade temper tantrum. One of the best moments caught on tv thus year.

Great analysis! I am hoping to see Jones eventually push his buddy McAdoo to get aggressive on offence, take some chances and maybe make something happen. Jones has done a great job developing our defence into a serious force but seems to be playing ostrich with his head stuck in the sand regarding the offence.

Bryce Taylor said...

The only logical explanation I have is that the coaching staff gets a bonus each time they run the same offensive play consecutively.

By far our most OFFENSIVE play is the quarterback sneak from the one. Just stop. Please stop. If you want to run the sneak on third and goal, fine, but do ANYTHING ELSE on first and second down. Your fans' sanity will thank you.

Don Mitchell said...

Re: Goal-line play.

There is the Easy Way, the Hard Way and then there is the Rider Way.

The Rider Way has no consistency, no rhyme nor reason. It may go as planned, go not as planned, go wrong, go completely wrong, or go comically wrong. Each event at the goal line is must see TV especially if you're participating in a drinking game, want comic relief or enjoy screaming at the idiot box.